A little while back, I told you that you CAN take a break.
And now, after the past week or so, you (and I) know that I do practice what I preach now.
If you preach taking space, take space
Recently, I realized that my world had gotten too big.
I was having a plethora of emotional and mental reactions to events that had nothing to do with me directly. All of it stemming a great deal from my consumption habits with social media.
I scrolled anytime that I had “time to kill”. These little moments became mindless consumption of everyone else’s lives via social news feed. My actions were the opposite of what I would preach.
Because we’re not really meant to fill our minds with too many other people’s stories, in my opinion.
Is the thing in front of you or what surrounds you upsetting?
This past summer, my family and I were out eating when I started getting agitated.
Now, every time this has happened in the past, I blame it on the conversation or the person I’m talking to, in my mind.
Somehow they’re upsetting me, right? So, I become more and more defensive and/or confrontational in how I talk to that person.
However, this time I wondered something else: What if it’s not who I’m talking to or what we’re talking about but, rather, the environment it’s taking place in.
Was I truly angry or overstimulated?
So I sat and listened for a little bit to the background. It was all noise. I heard utensils and plates clinking, a flood of voices all talking at once, and then, closer to me, other voices that I’m struggling to hone in on in order to have a satisfying (or at least functional) conversation.
At that moment, I realized something: My anger didn’t result from the conversation or the person. My anger evolved out of overstimulation, and I didn’t even realize it.
In fact, when I think back to the heated conversations I’ve had while out somewhere, it’s the same story. And this means that, for however many years, I’ve been lashing out at innocent victims of my own overstimulation.
That colors the past a little differently, but also opens the door for amends and reconciliation where needed.
Overstimulation and social media
This month, I had the same moment when it came to my interaction and consumption of social media.
You see, like it or not, Facebook and other platforms have become our public squares. We go to these places seeking the latest social news (and gossip).
And this satisfies a natural curiosity of our minds. Your mind is always seeking information to process. Your mind craves stimulation.
However, the quality of what you feed it is very important. And I realized that I was feeding mine all of these social opinions, feelings, complaints, life events, etc., that displaced my focus on my own life and happiness.
In other words, it left me angrily reacting to conversations I didn’t even have to be part of, instead of adjusting my behavior and expectations with an understanding of my environment.
On a social break, practicing what I preach
In order to gain a better balance, I’ve spent the past week or so off social media. I currently have over 100 unread notifications, and as I plan to still stay away a little longer in a personal aspect, I wonder if it will hit 200 eventually.
Because it feels good to see that number for me after mindlessly checking and consuming things for so long. It means that I’ve been more discerning in what I’m feeding my mind, and it also means that I can take a break when needed in order to let some things digest and work their way through.
Quite honestly, a lot of my recent revelations and self-analysis grew out of reading “The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture” by Gabor Mate, MD with Daniel Mate.
The premise of the book is to point out how trauma not only pervades our culture, but to also partially map out how we seemingly force ourselves to live in a society that exacerbates trauma’s effect.
Early in the book, in the chapter “Trauma Alienates Us from the Present”, Mate wrote something that made me really stop and think for a while. And afterwards, I realized that how I was reacting to my own traumas in public and in private was a misguided approach of flooding my mind. I was continuing on with old “sermons” I used to preach.
“If trauma entails a disconnection from the self, then it makes sense to say that we are being collectively flooded with influences that both exploit and reinforce trauma,” Mate writes. “Work pressures, multitasking, social media, news updates, multiplicities of entertainment sources ⏤ these all induce us to become lost in thoughts, frantic activities, gadgets, meaningless conversations.
“We are caught up in pursuits of all kinds that draw us on not because they are necessary or inspiring or uplifting, or because they enrich or add meaning to our lives, but simply because they obliterate the present.”
I hope I (and you, dear reader) are able to better choose those uplifting, necessary and inspiring things as we continue to grow.
Have a great day.
Inside the Mind of Daniel Thompson (podcast)
Ep. 13: The problem of being overly positive – Inside the Mind of Daniel Thompson
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